With the return of real life football only a matter of weeks away we thought it would be an appropriate time to pick some of our favourite alternative football movies. These flicks mightn’t have been as commercially successful as the likes of The Longest Yard & Co but there are some gems in here that are definitely worth a watch! What are your favourite football movies? Let us know in the comments!
My All American
My All American tells the true story of a high school Safety who’s wish to play for the legendary Coach Darrell Royal was temporarily granted, only to be cruelly cut short. Such was the impression that Freddy Steinmark made on his Coach that he was remembered even in the Coaches later days. A combination of great storytelling and plenty of action scenes make this a must see for any football fan.
Another true story, this time of the remarkable success of Brandon Burlsworth who despite being told he had no chance of playing D1 Football, walked on at the University of Arkansas and was eventually named an All American and a 3rd round draft pick. The movie is primarily set during his memorial service, with flashbacks to his life and career. It’s unique in the fact that the protagonist is in fact his brother, dealing with the grief of his loss.
If you loved Friday Night Lights, then chances are you’re going to enjoy Varsity Blues as well. A classic coming of age tale set in small town America, Varsity Blues depicts the trials and tribulations of the West Canaan Coyotes Football Team and how they deal with a threating head coach. The ultimate message is that there is more to life than football and as important as the sport may seem right now, it’s not going to be forever!
Despite being a complete Box office bust, Draft Day has become something of a cult classic. Set during the run up to and throughout the NFL Draft, this movie presents a (heavily fictionalized) scenario where the Cleveland Browns are successful and are plotting how to spend the top draft picks they control. If you’re comfortable with the complete suspension of disbelief and with the notion of Kevin Costner as the GM of a football franchise then there’s no harm in giving this one a whirl. And remember: “Vontae Mack no matter what!”
The College Football season is just around the corner and
with 5 games taking place in Ireland over the next few years, now is the
perfect time to choose a college football team to follow!
The question is, what college team is the best one to
follow? Well, that depends. There are a number of important factors to consider
when selecting your college football team. Firstly and most importantly, can
they win? Let’s face it, there’s no point in staying up till 3 am every Sunday
morning to watch your team lose. If you’re going to sacrifice sleep to watch
football, it has to be worth it. Secondly, does that team have a good
reputation? If the coach is being investigated for something sketchy or
underhand then maybe it isn’t the best idea to start supporting them. And
finally – is their jersey nice? As shallow as it might sound, if your going buy
their merch, you have to like how it looks.
So without further ado, let’s take a look at some of the
best college football teams to jump onboard with right now.
The Alabama Crimson Tide are without a doubt the best pound for pound college football team over the past 10 years. In the past 5 years alone they have appeared in 4 National Championship games, winning two of those. They always recruit the top players and have an evil genius as their coach. So if you want a team that wins, go with Bama! Although everyone will probably hate you for it.
Clemson football are destined to be the next number one team in America, a fate they sealed by hammering their rivals Alabama in this years Championship game. The Tigers have a cool Coach, a monstrous Defensive Line and a Quarterback that will be playing on Sundays in the next two years. This is a bandwagon you definitely want to jump on!
3. Notre Dame
I’ll try to be as unbiased here as possible – but for me when I first got into college football, following the “Fighting Irish” was a no brainer! Not only are they once again emerging as a perennial contender for the national championship, but their mascot is a fecking Leprechaun! And if you find the Irish shtick to be offensive, then you don’t have any sense of humour. Notre Dame are on the come up in a big way and once their recruiting improves, expect them to be in the final on a regular basis.
While they mightn’t have won much in recent years, the
combination of ever changing uniforms and their adorable Duck mascot makes Oregon
a solid team to support. Oregon’s jersey’s are produced by Nike and are usually
pretty slick. They also occasionally produce talented footballers. For example,
you may have heard of a guy called Marcus Mariota? The Ducks have been down on
their luck in recent years but don’t be surprised if they splash back onto the
scene this season.
History was made in London on July 2nd as 150 kids battled it out to become part of the first class at the NFL’s London Academy. The ground-breaking institute is the first of its kind outside of the US and will give select student athletes the opportunity to combine life skills with intensive sport training under full time coaches. Upon graduation, the students will not only have the chance to pursue pathways into employment and further education but also the chance to play for an NCAA college team in the USA. The players will be coached by British American Football legend Tony Allen who previously coached the London Warriors.
The try-out took place in Tottenham Hotspurs new stadium (which has been recently fitted specifically for NFL games) and was attended by current NFL players JuJu Smith Schuster and London native Efe Obada. Obada and Smith Schuster were both very impressed with the “Stadium Showcase” particularly by the talent and passion for the sport that was on display. Obada especially, knows how valuable any opportunity to play in the NFL can be. Obada played for the London Warriors before getting his shot to make the jump to the pro’s. He didn’t have this resource at his disposal.
So who can join the NFL’s London Academy? Well, according to their website they are looking for “16-18 year old talented American Football players, cross over athletes or those who have yet to play the sport”. Basically, if you haven’t turned 18 yet and are athletically inclined with an interest in the NFL you have what they’re looking for. Unfortunately, the age limit rules myself and probably all of our readers out as well! It seems that I’ll have to keep waiting for my chance to finally make it in the NFL.
Despite my disappointment at
being ruled out, I think the launch of a dedicated NFL UK education centre is major
indication of the growth of the game in Europe. It also presents a huge chance
for young talented Irish players. At the moment the furthest you can go in Ireland
is the National Team, which in itself a huge honour. But imagine being able to
take your skills and love for the game to another level altogether. Imagine
playing College Football.
If you think you have what it
takes then head over to www.nflacademy.com/whowerelookingfor
and register. And who knows, you could be the next Irish man to be playing College
In any aspect of life, taking a step up is always tough. A
new challenge will always add to the physical and mental strains being put on
you. This is particularly true in sport. When a team is promoted to a higher
division it can take a while for the players to adjust to all aspects of
playing at that higher level. If you’re going to be playing with the big boys,
then you’re going to have to put in the work.
It starts in the gym. Like it or not, strength and
conditioning are going to play an integral part in your success at the next
level. You don’t need to be jacked, but you need to have the durability and
explosiveness to compete with the guys you’ll be playing against. Becoming
stronger should also help you to avoid the unfortunate injuries that are part
and parcel of playing American Football.
But playing American football out of your comfort zone is more than big muscles and fast 40’s. It’s as much a mental thing as it is physical. You need to have faith and belief like never before. If a game isn’t going the way you had hoped the worst thing you can do is let your head drop. Becoming a student of the game will also help immensely. Get your head into game tape and learn about your opponent. What are their tendencies? How often to they blitz? Having even the slightest advantage over the other guy will go a long way. When you line up and you already know what the guy across from you is going to do, your chances of beating him have doubled.
Both the talent of players and the standard of play in a
higher division is naturally going to be higher, so It’s up to you to put in
the necessary work that will be required to compete. I’ve played at all levels of competitive
American Football in Ireland and in a lot of cases there is a massive gulf
between teams playing in the top division and those in the lower leagues. And
realistically, it should not be that hard for teams playing in IAFL1 or 2 to make
the jump. It will take consistency, it will take dedication and it will take
sacrifice. But if you love this sport as much as I do, it will be worth it.
If you want to win trophies and you want to play with the
big boys then you better up your game.
The Notre Dame mascot is one of the most iconic in sport. On
game day, the spirit of the ‘Fighting Irish” is brought to life by the Cheer Squad,
in particular those select few who don the green blazer and bowler to become
the Leprechaun. Notre Dame recently announced three new mascots and one of
those fortunate enough to have earned this honour, is Conal Fagan. Conal hails
from Derry, in the North of Ireland and is the first native Irishman to take on
the mantle of the Notre Dame Leprechaun.
But how does a kid from Ireland end up as Notre Dame’s most recognisable
representative? We caught up with Conal and he told us all about his amazing
journey from St Columb’s College in Derry to a scholarship studying Political
Science and Peace Studies in South Bend.
So how just did Conal end up at Notre Dame?
“Two kids from my school had gone to study in the US before
me, so they really inspired me to look into it. “ While still in school, Conal
began applying for the Sutton Trust, a program which helps youngsters from low
and middle income families apply to Colleges in the states. “The process for
applying to US colleges is a lot more holistic and denser than applying in the
UK or Ireland so it’s not really something you do half-heartedly. As soon as I
put my mind to it, I knew that the US was where I needed to be.” As part of the
Sutton Trust program, Conal was flown to the US to experience first-hand what
college life was like in the States. After months of research and preparation,
Conal’s decision came down to either Notre Dame or University of North
Carolina. “I’m confident I made the right choice!”
What was the draw of
For Conal, it was vital that he ended up in a place where he would feel right at home, and where he would be part of a community. “A word that really resonates with people here is ‘family’ – no matter when you graduated, if you meet a fellow alum there’s an instant connection.” The Notre Dame family has a global reach, even as far as South Africa, which Conal found out while coaching soccer in the townships as a volunteer last summer. A family of Notre Dame Fans spotted the ND hoodie he was wearing and instantly recognised him as one of their own. It was then that it really hit home for Conal how powerful and influential the ND brand is around the world. “One of the hardest things to explain back home is just how influential and integral Alumni are.”
to being a lifelong member of such a powerful graduate network, the
opportunities offered to students at Notre Dame is absolutely “crazy”. From
getting to travel around the world for research to meeting some of the most
promising young athletes, there’s so much to do. The driving factor for moving
abroad to study is summed up by Conal as a desire for self-growth, and to defy
the norm. “One of the biggest reasons why I decided to move to the US was that
I wanted to push myself outside of what was comfortable. And I really haven’t
looked back since”.
Now to the burning question we all have, how the hell did Conal end up on the Notre Dame Cheerleading squad? Well, it all started with a Notre Dame Onesie. That onesie became his attire for every basketball game he attended, and at every game Conal would be courtside leading the fans in their chants. “ Going to the Brandywell ( the home ground of Derry City FC) to see Derry play, I used to sit in the ‘Jungle’ – so I had good experience of being noisy!” But Conal wanted to do more at games than just sit in the crowd. He wanted to be a bigger part of the experience. And joining the cheer squad was the best way to do this. “I honestly think the cheerleaders were confused as to how I was so energetic at the games! I had a friend on the squad and when she heard me discussing the possibility of joining, she gave me the push that I needed. It’s been such an incredible experience so far!”
What’s it like being the mascot and representing the Notre Dame spirit? “I can’t emphasise enough how amazing the experience has been” Conal’s friends initially thought it would be hilarious if someone from Ireland auditioned for the role of the leprechaun, but once he began to realise what exactly the position meant and the opportunities that came with it, it was simply too good for him to turn down. Because mascots aren’t really a thing in Ireland, at first it was quite difficult for Conal to convey the significance of the role, but one he started to appear on TV and on social media people began to grasp the idea a little better.
“Putting on the suit honestly makes you feel like a
superhero. When you adopt this persona, it represents more than you can ever
The first few weeks of being the mascot were quite
overwhelming for Conal as he adjusted to being bombarded for photograph
requests as well as being constantly on the go to events, games and other
appearances. But no matter how hectic the schedule, for Conal “..The benefits
will always outweigh the drawbacks.”
“Pulling on that jersey (in my case a suit) is one of the
best feelings. It’s the stuff dreams are made of”.
As Cheerleading isn’t
really a thing here in Ireland, can you tell us how big part of University
sports culture it is in the States?
“A lot of people’s perceptions of cheerleading are based on
what they see in movies, and to be honest, it couldn’t be further from the
truth. I think most people imagine that cheerleading involves running around in
a leotard waving pom- poms! In reality, I get to throw people in the air and do
some really insane stunts, none of which I ever thought I could do! It’s a
super dangerous sport that requires a huge amount of strength, technique and
focus.” Cheerleaders in America are full time athletes, who have to train four
times a week as well as lifting twice a week. But the reward for all the hard
work is getting to run out in front of 80,000 people at home football games as
well as the millions watching on TV at home. “I don’t think I could have ever
pictured this as a kid back home!”
Becoming the face of the Fighting Irish cheer squad wasn’t
Fagan’s first brush with Athletics. In fact, he had previously been part of the
Notre Dame Men’s Soccer programme! Before he came to South Bend, he was already
playing soccer at a high level having made appearances for both the Northern
Ireland U15/16 team as well as Derry City’s U17/19 team. Fagan had already considered playing in a US
college, but didn’t want soccer to define his university experience. An email
from a highly respected coach encouraging him to give it a shot, however, made
his decision a lot more straightforward. And although he did not ultimately
make an appearance for the team, working with some of the best players and
coaches in the country undoubtedly gave him a strong start and a competitive
edge to his time in Notre Dame.
As Conal gears up for the 2019/2020 season, his main goal on
the field is to learn how to do a flip! “It’s something I’ve always wanted to
learn to do but never really been able to focus the time on so I feel that it’s
the perfect time to take advantage.” Off the field, a summer internship in
Australia awaits where he’ll be working with Paralympians and Disabled
Athletes. A flat out but very rewarding
year awaits him! Best of luck Conal and thanks for taking the time to talk to
American football is a contact sport, and chances are that if you play at some stage you’re going to get injured. Bumps and bruises are part and parcel of the game and normally won’t impact on your playing time. But twisted ankles, sprained wrists and cracked ribs all pose a bigger challenge! There’s a distinct difference between playing hurt and playing injured. In the ten or so years I’ve been playing American football in Ireland, I’ve almost lost count of the number of injuries that I’ve picked up.
In fact, this year alone I’ve been injured 7 (yes 7 ) times since January. I’m what you might call injury prone”.
But the point of this article isn’t to focus on the negative aspects of being injured. Quite the opposite in fact. Oftentimes when players get injured, their heads will drop and they’ll get disheartened. The worst thing you can do is wallow. This will only make things worse. Recovering from an injury is just as much a mental thing as it is physical. So what exactly can you do to make sure you get back on the field as soon as possible?
Keep working out.
The most important thing you can do to aid your recovery from a football injury is to stay as active as possible. Not only will working out keep you in game shape, it will keep the blood pumping and flowing which is vital in promoting healing. One of the biggest benefits of exercise is the release of endorphins; that magic happy hormone too boost your mood and overall productivity. It goes without saying that you should only push yourself as much as you feel comfortable with, doing your best not to re-injure yourself.
Just because you’re injured, doesn’t mean you’re no longer part of the team. Get yourself to training – you can learn just as much from watching and listening as you can from actually playing. Watching from the sideline will give you a different perspective and a different viewpoint from which to improve. Staying involved will keep you sharp and make your return to the field a lot easier.
You won’t be injured forever. Keep your head up and keep working towards getting back to playing. Tracking your rehabilitation will help you to see how you are progressing and how close you are to returning to play.
Injuries happen in our sport, and if you’ve been fortunate enough to never experience one then you are truly one of the lucky ones. But if you’re like me then you know just how demoralizing it can be to have to sit and look on as your team play. But trust me when I say that if you rehab properly and have the right attitude then you will be recovered and ready to play in no time.
In a little over a month, the 2019 Irish American football season will kick off and players up and down the country are busy preparing for what promises to be the best set of fixtures yet. And while knowing the playbook inside out is a critical part of a player’s success, being physically prepared for the inevitable toil is just as important. Anyone who has played the sport knows just how sore you can be on a Monday after hitting and getting hit repeatedly the day before. So what can you do to get your body ready for the upcoming season?
Strength and condition is a critical part of being an American football player. Unless you’re naturally strong enough, chances are you’re going to have to lift. Even lifting twice a week will give you an edge. The key exercises for football players are: bench press, squats, dead-lifts and cleans. Physical strength and explosiveness are essential qualities to succeed on the field. But it’s not all about pumping iron. In order to keep up with the fast paced, stop start nature of the game, you’re going to need to run. A lot. A mix of sprints and longer runs should give you the speed and endurance required to play.
Depending on what position you’re playing, you’re going to have to retain a certain weight and size. For example, anyone playing a high contact positon like Linebacker, Running Back or anywhere on the line will need to be heavier and bulkier than someone playing WR or DB. Getting enough protein in your diet can often be challenging. Instead of just having toast for breakfast, try to include some eggs or even chicken. For dinner, adding red meat or fish will make a significant difference to your muscle mass. And remember: If you’re trying to get lean by cutting carbs, you’re going to lose strength and size too!
Rest days are just as important, if not even more so, than working out. Rest is invaluable to your body’s recovery – allowing for muscle growth and retention. If you’ve had a particularly tough training session or game, the best thing you can do after is rest! Those aches and pains will only get worse if you do an intense workout the day after a game. If you absolutely have to exercise, a quick walk to get the blood flowing will do the trick.
It’s important to remember though that every player is different and will have their own fitness ideology. This article is only intended as a guide, for new players and for veterans looking to get a few tips on how to become a better competitor and athlete! We are by no means qualified experts!
Do you have a workout or meal plan that you swear by for football? Let us know in the comments!
Super Bowl Sunday is almost upon us and the entire nation is getting in on the act. What was once a niche event on the Irish sporting calendar has grown to become a nationwide celebration of all things USA. As American Football continues to grow in popularity here, pubs up and down the country are stocking up on hot dogs as they prepare to feed fans until the wee hours of Monday morning. It’s a far cry from a few years ago when you’d be hard pushed to find even one place that would invest in a late licence in order to stay open to show it.
Whether this Is your first Super Bowl, or your tenth (god I’m old) it’s essential that you find the right spot to settle in and cheer on whoever is playing against Tom Brady. For the ultimate Super Bowl atmosphere and experience, nowhere beats The Woolshed. Dublin’s best sports bar transforms into NFL world with every screen in the place (that’s a lot) showing the game. 3 bars across two floors ensures that you’re never waiting too long for a drink. And if you’re feeling peckish during the game, you can literally get a bucket of wings delivered to your table. What more could you want?
If you don’t fancy the trek down Parnell Street then have no fear because the south side of the city also has plenty of options to watch the Super Bowl! An old favorite of mine is Sinnotts, beside St.Stephen’s Green. Sinnotts has a huge cinema style screen as well as several smaller screens so you’re guaranteed to have a good view from wherever you’re sitting. Although if you do want to be sitting I’d recommend getting in early as both The Woolshed and Sinnotts will be packed by 9pm at the latest. Grub wise, Sinnotts does some pretty savage platters, perfect for picking on throughout the night. The burgers are also decent. Wherever you end up, there’ll be no shortage of soakage options, ensuring that you can keep the pints up till the 4th quarter!
*If you do hit The Woolshed, make sure to keep an eye out for the West Dublin Rhinos American Football team!
Once you’ve decided where to watch the game and sorted yourself out with some wings – it’s time to play NFL jersey bingo! Ireland has a huge sleeper NFL fan base, and Super Bowl Sunday brings them all out of the woodwork. While it’s a given that there will be an unbearable amount of Patriots jerseys with ‘Brady’ or ‘Gronkowski’ on the back, you’re guaranteed to also see a few gems. Will you spot an ill-fated Browns Johnny Manziel jersey? Or perhaps an orange crush Denver broncos top. Those are pretty sweet.
Whatever the outcome of Super Bowl 53, the important thing is to have the craic. Sunday will literally see the forces of Good and Evil battling it out for a year of bragging rights, and the city of Dublin is bound to be buzzing.
Being a Backup QB in the NFL is a handy gig. You earn a shitload of money to sit on the sideline drinking Gatorade and having the craic. Every once in a while you might be called in to close out a game or hold a snap. But things are changing. Backup QB’s are fast becoming the saviors of NFL franchises. Nick Foles is the prime example of this tectonic shift. Foles cemented his place in NFL history last season, when he came off the bench to lead the Eagles to Superbowl glory, earning MVP honors for his trouble. Foles also gained the adulation of Philadelphia. Philly sports fans are notoriously tough to please, and by bestowing him with the title of “Big Dick Nick” they have made him one of theirs forever. The underdog QB nearly repeated his heroics this season but suffered an unfortunate stumble at the Divisional round hurdle.
Nick Foles isn’t the only backup QB to be unexpectedly thrust into action in recent times. 49ers 3rd stringer Nick Mullens went from zero to hero this year when he was forced to replace both Jimmy G and CJ Beathard. Mullens more than stepped up to the plate and in 8 games threw for 2,277 yards and 13 touchdowns. He formed a strong connection with Tight End George Kittle, which will certainly benefit them both when the roster is being set next Summer. Mullens’ real triumph however, came off the field, when his Twitter profile became verified. You know you’ve made it in life when that little blue tick appears next to your name. Now that’s validation.
While this trend of the number two signal caller riding in to save the day may seem relatively new, we must remember that the greatest QB of our generation was once a back up himself. Yes, as much as it pains me, I am in fact talking about Tom Brady. When he was drafted out of Michigan in 2000, no one thought that he would ever amount to much. But Mr. Irrelevant took his chance to usurp the incumbent New England Passer and never once relinquished his grip. Over the course of almost 20 years, Brady went from scrawny understudy to NFL golden boy. And love him or loathe him, you have to admit that he has done so much for the game of American Football, especially serving as an inspiration for young QB’s who want to one day lead a franchise.
September 2019 will almost certainly see Wentz and Garoppolo back at their respective helms, there will always be hope for the back up. Your day will come.
(Shout out to Matt Saracen, possibly the greatest back up turned starter ever)
And then there were twelve. The dust has settled on the regular season, and tonight 4 teams will do battle in the Wildcard Round. The top prize is on the line: a trip to the Superbowl.
It’s been a weird 4 months of football. Pass defense seemed to fall by the wayside as high octane offenses dueled to outscore each other. It was only down the stretch that teams remembered that they had secondary’s. The emergence of rookie gunslingers like Mahomes and Goff and the resurgence of the legendary Drew Brees were the main factors behind the apparent redundancy of defending against the pass.
But it wasn’t just defensive backs who became villains. Pass rushers, Clay Matthews in particular seemed to become persona non grata with the league. In the early part of the season, defenders who even breathed aggressive were penalized for roughing the passer. It became so farcical that Ndamukong Suh created his own PSA demonstration video on how to safely tackle the Quarterback.
Disastrous defense aside, there were a number of other notable events that marred the season.
Le’veon Bell’s holdout at the start of the season cast a shroud over the Steelers. Bell’s absence was a massive distraction for the team and is undoubtedly the reason they got off to such a rocky start. But Bell’s holdout also revealed the true nature of professional football, the side we don’t like to acknowledge. Money. The league is a business, and these men are assets. Bell has every right as an employee to demand more money, but because we like to ignore this facet of football, he was portrayed as the bad guy, greedy and gutless for holding out on his teammates and his fans.
You could write a whole thesis on the ins and outs of professional athletes and their rights vis a vis payment. All we’ll say for now is that by taking the above action, Bell has guaranteed two things. 1: He has played his last game for Pittsburgh and 2. Other Running Backs are going to follow in his lead.
The NFL has a checkered history of players committing physical assault. Ray Rice, Greg Hardy and more recently Reuben Foster have all been accused of violence against women. In some cases the league will pay lip-service and then sweep it under the carpet. But occasionally, they’ll make an example. 2018’s perpetrator was Kareem Hunt, the electric Chiefs Running Back. Within an hour of a video of him appearing to hit someone surfaced, his former time cut ties. There message was loud and clear: “We don’t want anything to do with him.” And you can’t blame them. In order to maintain some sort of a good reputation, the NFL has to be tougher on this issue. Zero tolerance. Zero excuses.
It has indeed been an up and down year in the NFL. I haven’t even enjoyed watching games as much as I used to. Hopefully the 2019 season will be better. As for the Post Season Finale in February: The Chiefs and the Rams will battle it out in Atlanta for a chance to lift the Lombardi. And ultimately, Patrick Mahomes will win his first world championship.